AKC is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to akc.org. If you purchase a product through this article, we may receive a portion of the sale.
While some dog breeds were made for swimming—like Labrador Retrievers and Portuguese Water Dogs—other dog breeds can be less adapted to the water. Either way, if you and your dog plan to spend time in or on the water, a dog life jacket is a wise investment. Even dogs who are good swimmers can get tired, have trouble staying buoyant, and struggle to keep their heads above water.
Some breeds, such as Bulldogs, have body types that are less suited to swimming and can need help staying afloat. If your dog accompanies you on a boat, a personal flotation device (PFD) for dogs is essential, no matter how good of a swimmer your dog may be. To help you and your dog stay safe in the water, we’ve compiled a list of four of the best dog life jackets.
Tips for Choosing a Dog Life Jacket
Before we share our picks, let’s quickly break down what you should be looking for when choosing a dog life jacket. Although there are no standards for dog life jackets, there are some features you should look for:
- Handle: A handle on the dog life jacket will make it easier for you to grab hold of your dog if necessary. It also makes it easier to teach your dog to swim. You can guide your dog in the water until they feel confident swimming on their own.
- D-ring: The dog life jacket or vest should have a D-ring so you can attach a leash.
- Dog life jacket vs. dog life vest: Decide whether you need a dog life jacket or a dog life vest. Dog life jackets cover more of your dog and provide both buoyancy and visibility. They’re recommended for boating and other water activities. If your dog swims primarily in a pool, on the other hand, you might be OK with a life vest. A life vest is typically lighter, covers less of your dog, and is easier for casual swimming.
- Color: Although dog life jackets come in all sorts of colors and prints, bright colors, or dog life jackets with a reflective strip, will make it easier to spot your dog in the water.
Keeping these tips in mind, here are five of our favorite dog life jacket picks.
Best Overall Dog Life Jacket for All Breed Sizes
The Outward Hound Granby dog life jacket is designed with four qualities in mind: buoyancy, visibility, handles, and floatation. This dog life jacket has dual rescue handles, belly buckles, and chest straps, as well as foam panels and a secure neck float.
Additionally, the jacket is bright orange with reflective piping so you don’t have to worry about losing sight of your pup. This life jacket will compliment your dog’s swimming ability, while also keeping him safe. Verified customers who have reviewed this life jacket love the fit, quality, and durable material. Some customers, however, comment on the sizing process, saying the jacket runs small, so you’ll want to pay close attention to the sizing chart and take your dog’s measurements.
Runner-Up Best Dog Life Jacket
This easy-to-use dog life jacket is made with dense foam panels to help dogs stay afloat, making it a good choice for dogs who aren’t the strongest swimmers. The vest features reflective strips for added visibility and adjustable straps so it has a great fit. This life jacket comes in sizes from XX-Small to X-Large.
Top-Rated Budget Life Jacket for Dogs
Although all of our dog life jackets are highly rated, the Vivaglory dog life jacket has one of the highest ratings, with an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars. This jacket is available in five sizes, from extra-small to extra-large. The jacket comes in eight bright and fun colors, varying from pink to blue to yellow. Vivaglory constructs their jacket with extra padding and a fastening system around the dog’s belly and neck to keep him secure and buoyant without restricting motion. This dog life jacket also has a durable grab handle, a D-ring for leash attachment, and adjustable straps and quick-release buckles.
As we mentioned, this life jacket is very highly-reviewed. Reviewers love the colors, overall fit, and sturdy material. They also appreciate all of the different safety features and write that their dogs are comfortable while also able to have fun in the water. As with most dog life jackets, you’ll want to be sure you measure your dog so that you purchase the appropriate size—if you have an issue, however, reviewers say that Vivaglory has excellent customer service.
Cutest Dog Life Jacket
Not only will this dog life jacket keep your pup safe, but he’ll look adorable as he swims. The Frisco Shark Dog Life Jacket helps your dog stay afloat with double-layer foam for extra buoyancy. This life jacket comes in four sizes: extra-small through large, and three colors: rose, grey, and orange. There is a secure handle with reinforced stitches attached to the top of the jacket, as well as a D-ring to secure a leash. Furthermore, the life jacket has a shark fin on the back, adding a “cute” element to this floatation device. This jacket also has reflective buckle straps that help keep your dog seen, but don’t restrict his motion while swimming.
Customers who have reviewed this dog life jacket like the quality as well as the fun shark fin. Reviewers write that the jacket fits well, supports dogs of a variety of sizes, and allows for dogs to safely partake in many water activities.